Readings, and Related Inspirations

Collaboration and Group 6 Love at #moocmooc


I didn’t know what kind of role I would take, when I first began participating in the MOOCMOOC that’s happening all this week, sponsored/created by Hybrid Pedagogy.

A MOOC, I have learned is an acronym for Massive Open Online Course. And if you do a little search, you can get all kinds of information on what that means, so I’ll let you have at it.

In the MOOC class about MOOCs – or MOOCMOOC – our ‘mass-ignment’ was to create an essay called “A MOOC By Any Other Name” – talking about what MOOCs are. The guidelines were simple:

1. Consider these questions: What is a MOOC? What does it do, and what does it not do?
2. Collaborate as a group (a potentially very large group) in this document to write one exactly 1000-word essay that responds to both questions. (For a word count at any point, highlight the body of the essay, then go to Tools > Word Count in the main menu.)
3. Somewhere in the essay, reference (quote or cite) each of the following articles:

4. Include (and attribute) a single picture chosen via

We were to do this over google docs – a program I am only a little familiar with (except after today, I happen to be a lot familiar with it).

The invitations were sent out at midnight EST, and as I happen to be in Georgia – I went ahead and dove in right away.

The following story is what made the experience kind of incredible.

I took a nap on the couch Sunday afternoon. It was one of those days when I just couldn’t seem to wake up all the way. As a direct result, I had a ton of energy right around midnight, when those of us enrolled in the MOOCMOOC were invited to a group document. I wasn’t sure exactly how that was going to go down, but I ended up in a document called “A MOOC by Any Other Name (6).” I figured that meant I was in group 6, and that was that, so I opened the document and took a look.

What I found was that people had already started brainstorming. Most particularly, a guy called Bernardo Trejos – who is currently located in Taiwan. I’m pretty sure he said it was about noon there, and when we started talking via comments, for me, it was around 1AM EST.

Bernardo (in Taiwan) had already started brainstorming – mapping out ideas to cover under the sub-headed questions. So I just dove right in and started adding a few, commenting on the sidelines – that’s how we started talking.

Here’s where I got to see how some guy I’ve never met, all the way across the world, and I, think very differently: he was writing a bunch of smart questions, so I decided to do my own thing, and I began reading through the articles (which you see above) and pulling out quotes I thought might fit into some of the sections.

About an hour later, I couldn’t keep my warped eyes open any longer, and so Bernardo said he’d keep at it, and I went to bed.

Lights out.

I sleep late (as a general life rule) and when I woke up, because I had dreamt of MOOCMOOC all night, I just opened the up document over coffee.

What I saw was amazing.

A bunch of people who are totally anonymous to me**, had done a bunch of composing on #6 document! And a lot of it was really good!

**For those of you unfamiliar with Google Docs, once you write on the document, your name’s not attached or anything – anyone could have written it.

I began to read through it – I saw that Bernardo had chosen a picture, and people were discussing it. And so I contented myself with putting comments in the margins of the document, giving some feedback to other people’s questions, and just watching what the group (sometimes 23-25 users) were doing. But it looked really long. So I did a word count, and at 9:49AM, we were already at 982 words.

Maybe I’ve been teaching too long, or maybe I’m a stick int he mud, but I felt I had to tell everyone – so I put a note at the bottom of the document in red.

At 11:01AM. I had to get out of there, or the MOOCMOOC was going to suck up my whole soul. So I changed the word count # to 1428, because that’s where it was, and decided to just look in later.

I worked all day, kind of just lurking creepily around the document, taking note that a rogue document had sprung up in the process, observing that the users in my group were citing a lot of other outside sources and that the picture had been changed. I kind of got the feeling that people were afraid to delete the writing that others had done, so I added a thread to the discussion about Monday class addressing how people felt, but it didn’t really go anywhere.

Part of my job at Georgia State University is working on a bunch of cool New Media stuff with Pete Rorabaugh, one of the teachers on this MOOCMOOC course. Today we were sitting in the Exchange on campus, doing something totally different, and I told him what was going on in Document Group 6 – the things I was watching – and then I got this idea:

What if I went in at 5:30PM EST and got the people already working on the document together for 30 minutes of no-holds-barred revise and cut-down of the document?? Would people be receptive to that? Would there be enough people in there? Too many?

I rushed home and got onto the document. I opened up the conversation-chat sidebar and pretty much yelled into the chasm: How many people are working in here right now? — I really wish I had storified it – I didn’t. I’m just recapping.

There were about 5 people, all told, that replied – Bernardo was back! Also on deck were Rosemary Stewart, Annalisa Manac, and Vera Dolan. From what I can tell by Canvas and Twitter stalking these people – Bernardo is in Taiwan, Rosemary is in New Zealand, Annalisa is in Scotland,  and Vera is in Toronto – and I’m in Georgia.

Georgia looks really close to Toronto, in comparison to across the Pacific!

I asked if we could split up tasks and get to it – they asked me to delegate! I couldn’t believe how on board everyone was! So I listed the sections, everyone took one, and Bernardo checked all the links and general aesthetics.

At the top of the document, in red, I wrote a banner that said to visit the sidebar conversation if you (any new people entering the document) wanted to help with our endgame. Derek Bruff, Terje Norderhaug, and Ian Thomas didn’t join the convo, but they did some really great proofing and commenting in the margins.

At the end – we were posting word counts, and time left – sort of like this: We are working on the final revisions, which need to be done in 9 minutes!

People got really into it. The sidebar conversation was popping, we were communicating well, and somehow we got it down to 975 words – right at the last minute. The administrator, Sean Micheal Morris, came in and told us it was good – we were done.

And the excitement reverberated over the twitter social hour at #moocmooc. We had some great group 6 love, and I immediately followed everyone that worked up to the last minute.

In all – it was exhilarating.

I did not expect that from MOOCMOOC – I didn’t really expect anything in particular.

My favorite parts:

  • collaborating with strangers from all over the globe in seconds
  • watching people write, which makes me feel like a voyeur, but I accept that
  • synchronous, friendly, last minute collaboration on a massive project – that last minute part was so fun.
  • Learning that my personal strengths happen to be in brainstorming, and revising

Here’s to Tuesday!


11 thoughts on “Collaboration and Group 6 Love at #moocmooc

  1. Sounds interesting. Great collaboration!

  2. That’s such a great recap! My experience with group 3 was pretty similar. When someone asked, “How much time do we have left? What’s eastern time?” I realized that I might be the only person actually in the EST zone — I was working with folks scattered across the globe. By the end of the day, as we were racing to meet the 6 pm deadline, I was chiming in with warnings, “Ten minutes left!’ and the group felt pretty chohesive as we made a last minute choice of which picture to use.

  3. wow – gr8 story 🙂 I’ve only taken part in one MOOC (and ‘take part’ is a pretty loose term!), but from that one person I follow on Twitter posted about #moocmooc, so here I am checking out the activity.

    Love this post, a great combination of virtual, global interactions, with an interjection of face to face stimulous.

  4. Hi there!

    I was also working on Doc 6 yesterday. I’m in Indiana. I devoted a lot of my afternoon off and on to it, until about 4:30 when I had to leave to pick up my daughter.

    It was a really interesting experience, and I took a look at it last night after it was closed and was pleased to see the result!

    I could see some phrases I stuck in, and phrases that I’d worked on and then they were modified by someone else to make them even more awesome!

  5. Valerie, My wife and I both loved your essay! Thanks for posting it.

  6. Great, thanks for this post. I was working on a doc (Doc 1) early on but had to go to sleep (no one else seemed to know what to do or how to work together at the start). By the time I got to work the next day though I didn’t recognise it! I am so envious of your experience…

  7. I’ve only just now found this blog post! I love your description of it. What a great time.

  8. Valerie, thanks for this post! I was working on Doc 6, too, and reading this made me remember things I would probably have forgotten by now. The final minutes were really exciting, especially when we had to decides on rules so quickly. I am glad I participated… the essay we produced is good, but the work and interaction that happened in the process… those were the most amazing thing. I have learnt a lot!

  9. Pingback: Computers and Composition Greetings « valerievisual

  10. Pingback: Hybrid Pedagogy | A MOOC by Any Other Name

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